For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
“A nation predicts its own future by the way it treats Education”
Ben Murray-Bruce (Nigerian Politician)
Main Prayer Focus of the Week:
- Far sighted policies that will raise Uganda to her calling in education
- Policies that will enable the fast growing population to rise to its full potential
OVERVIEW OF THE WEEK’S FOCUS
Shaping the Future of Uganda
While the historical and current trends indicate that Uganda will eventually improve primary school completion and ultimately secure a more prosperous and successful future, additional efforts are needed to help secure that future and quicken its coming. Benefits from education are appreciated after a long time and yet both donors and governments want quick results. It will often appear more attractive to ignore the problems of a weak school system and instead respond to poverty via policies that provide an immediate income transfer.
Though basic education is among the most expensive, complex and labor-intensive activities that governments undertake, its benefits are long lasting. While it does not demand as high a level of professional expertise as health-care, teaching is a professional activity. Effective teachers require a minimum of upper-secondary education, further training in education techniques, field support, decent school facilities and systems to measure learning outcomes. School administrators need to be competent and free from partisan political interference. A good education system also needs to involve parents in local school affairs. Reconciling these requirements and achieving progress is feasible, even on very modest budgets, but it is naïve to think that doing so is politically or administratively easy.
While a high adult literacy rate does not guarantee a country will realize overcome extreme poverty, its absence almost certainly guarantees poverty for the majority. Achieving a high literacy rate requires large long-term investment from government, supplemented by investment from other institutions such as religious and other non-government organizations, as well as for-profit firms. Whether or not the government directly hires teachers and supplies education services or enables NGOs and private schools to flourish, or some combination of the above, assuring an adequate supply of quality education services at low cost to parents requires reasonably effective government.
There is also a pressing need for more expenditure on education and more understanding of the complexities of managing an education system. When governments are clear about their priorities, they can dictate or influence where donor aid goes. As shown in Figure 22 Uganda’s neighbors in the EAC (East African Community) Kenya and Tanzania are outspending her on public education as a percentage of GDP. Rwanda is fast catching up too. Over the past century, Uganda has had a reputation for being the education hub of East and Central Africa. Over the years, many students from all across the region have flocked to Uganda for their education. Uganda has been a major exporter of education in this sense. This is a position Uganda is at risk of losing with major economic implications.
EAC Countries Expenditure on Public Education as a Percentage of GDP
The Population Factor
A high population growth rate dampens achievements in GDP. The Ugandan population doubled from 1960 to 1982. It doubled again from 1982 to 2003. Applying the current trend, Uganda’s population will double between 2003 and the mid-2020s and yet again by the 2050s. It is currently the 34th largest population in the world, yet over the next five years it is forecast to experience the 15th largest absolute increase in population. It is difficult to overstate the impact that this seismic population shift will have on the development of human, social, physical, and natural systems.
Global population data indicates that Uganda is not only having one of the fastest growing population rates, but one of the youngest populations in the world. The median age is estimated at about 16 years, and about 80 % of the population is below the age of 35 years. A rapidly growing population outstripping economic growth puts an enormous burden on social programs including education and makes inevitable a decline in the number of literate, numerate people which in turn increases the dependency ratio of the population.
Whether or not Uganda benefits from this demographic dividend depends on whether the majority of Ugandan youth will be sufficiently educated to man an industrialization drive and the rest of the labour force. Should the country fail to prepare its youth for this emerging opportunity, there is a very real danger that dark forces and self seeking individuals will take advantage of the masses of unemployed youth to create national instability. The nation is therefore facing both an opportunity and a potential catastrophe. Let us pray that God will guide policy and decision making so that the country will seize the opportunity at hand.
Youth unemployment is becoming an increasingly troublesome issue in many parts of the world and especially in Africa, which has the fastest growing population in the world. Youth unemployment poses a serious political, economic, and social challenge to any country and its leadership. The youth by definition have been regarded as that segment of the population from 18-35 years who are characteristically active, vibrant, daring and with useful energies.
Therefore Uganda, like many other African countries, is faced with the major challenge of how to absorb the large numbers of unemployed graduates in order to reduce unemployment and maximize the benefits that come from having a large work force. The unemployment rate for young people ages 15–24 is 83%. This rate is even higher for those who have formal degrees and live in the urban area. The informal sector accounts for the majority of young workers. 3.2% of youth work for waged employment, 90.9% work for informal employment, and 5.8% of the Ugandan youth are self-employed. The growing number of slum dwellers in African cities is to a large extent a testament of employment that is not gainful.
The Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicates that 500,000 young people join our work force every year from universities and other tertiary institutions. It is not unusual to find some graduates still roaming the streets, five years after graduating in search of jobs. A single job advert attracts hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants.
A high rate of unemployment among the youth is associated with high poverty rates and insecurity. The lack of employment potential makes crime a more attractive option. Lack of employment, an inconsistent policy framework for youth development, and general economic hardship tend to result in the youth becoming agents of social vices, political thuggery, and misadventure. The cycle is making it increasingly difficult for Uganda to break out of poverty. Young women also more often have to stay at home in a maternal role from a very young age, which limits their ability to work. If Uganda is to move out of the list of low-income countries, there must be paramount importance placed on developing educational systems that promote godly character in addition to imparting knowledge and skills.
INSTITUTIONS PRAYER FOCUS FOR WEEK SEVEN
Pray for these institutions using the prayer guidelines in Chapter 1:
- National Planning Authority
- Parliament of Uganda
- The Executive Arm of the Government
MARKET PLACE FOCUS FOR WEEK SEVEN
- Nehemiah worked with increased zeal on his assignment Nehemiah 4 vs 21- 23
- Pray for the leaders that God is raising in your sector of the market place and for yourself that you will receive increased zeal on the assignment
- Pray that the enemy will not isolate you or the leaders in your sector. The enemy likes to isolate and then finish off his prey.
1 World Bank. 2008. African Development Indicators 2008/2009. Washington, DC: World Bank
2 The Effects of a Very Young Age Structure in Uganda” (PDF). Population Action International. 2010.
3 Garcia, Marito. 2008. Directions in Development- Human Development. World Bank